Protect Yourself at All Times -- a Second Amendment Mantra

Protect Yourself at All Times -- a Second Amendment Mantra
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I am a boxing fan and one of the best traditions of the sport is the referee’s admonition given to both pugilists, just before the bout commences to “protect yourself at all times.” This advice makes sense not just for prizefighting, but also for life in general. We live in a rough world, and even if we’d rather live in blissful ignorance, evil stalks the earth.

Our Founding Fathers understood this condition full well, and guaranteed, via the Second Amendment, an inalienable right of self-protection – against tyrants, against invaders, against criminals – against anyone who would seek to steal Americans’ hard-won liberty.

The 2016 electoral shockwave, which culminated in our country’s first ever citizen-president with no prior government experience, was in some ways a reaction by  tens of millions of citizens who felt defenseless in the face of another kind of threat. For decades, they came to believe, the reigning establishment in both major political parties encouraged globalist economic policies that they see as punishing working-class Americans while enriching well-connected elites.

Imbalanced trade deals with many countries, especially with China, massively outsourced American jobs, without trade fairness or reciprocity. Porous borders flooded the workforce with plentiful cheap labor, a disaster for working-class strivers. Donald Trump was widely mocked for describing, both on the campaign trail and in his inaugural address, the “American carnage” that unfolded across the land. But his honesty struck a deep chord among tens of millions of voters struggling with stagnant wages, government dependency, a loss of confidence, and epidemic levels of substance abuse among too many hopeless citizens.

The same dynamic is present in the debate over guns that is roiling our nation in the wake of the killing of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla. To liberal champions of further gun control, the lesson seems obvious: ban the sale of the weapon used in the Valentine’s Day rampage, close the “gun show loophole,” and tighten up controls on other firearms as well.

But this approach is predicated on the same logic that informed trade policy and failed immigration laws and any number of social engineering schemes that dominated U.S. politics until Donald Trump came along. What these Big Government advocates are saying is, essentially, the same thing they said in the NAFTA debate and at so many other times: “Let the trained experts -- the government professionals -- protect you.”  Except, as we saw with dreadful clarity in Parkland, government failed at every single level, from the FBI to local law enforcement to the public school system itself. These abdications of competence and accountability provide the latest evidence that Americans, as heirs to the patriots of 1776, cannot outsource our self-defense solely to government. We will not, thanks to our Bill of Rights, ever surrender to a government monopoly over weapons.

In contrast to the abject failures of state actors in Parkland stands the incredible bravery of former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford in Sutherland Springs, Texas, who used his AR-15 – yes, that gun – to twice shoot and nearly incapacitate the gunman who had killed 26 people and wounded 20 more when he opened fire in a church. The barefoot Willeford (pictured) also enlisted another heroic nearby civilian in a pickup truck, Johnnie Langendorff, to follow and neutralize the fleeing murderer. This unlikely pair of citizen patriots gave chase at speeds up to 95 miles per hour before the assassin crashed and died.

The point of this contrast – government failure in Parkland vs. private citizen heroics in Sutherland Springs -- demonstrates anew that our protection is too important to be relegated to government alone. In the case of schools, the protection of our precious children must rise to at least the level of seriousness with which we already guard our money, jewelry, sports arenas, and offices.

Diffusion of power was a central theme of the election of 2016. We’ve had enough of Washington, D.C., siphoning the rights and prosperity of the rest of the country for the benefit of the Beltway-based power structure. Among those sacred rights is the right to bear arms and protect ourselves -- “at all times.”

Steve Cortes, a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator, is the national spokesman for the Hispanic 100, an organization that promotes Latino leadership by advancing free enterprise principles. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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